Review: forma.8 (Switch) - Japan-based Nintendo Podcasts, Videos & Reviews!


Sunday, August 27, 2017

Review: forma.8 (Switch)

by Danny Bivens

The little probe that could.

Forma.8 was in development for years before finally releasing this past February on the PS4, Vita, Xbox One, Wii U and Steam. It’s a Metroid-vania game that puts players in control of an abandoned probe that is in search of an ancient energy source on a huge planet. There is a lot to like here in this mysterious adventure game and it’s out right now on a Switch near you.

Unlike most Metroid-vania games that put you in control of some kind of humanoid character, players are navigating the worlds in forma.8 as a tiny circular probe. It’s not super powerful and doesn’t even have projectile weapons (it kinda does, but more on that later), but throughout the game, it gets more and more powerful. Since you’re a probe, you’re also floating around the environments at a leisurely pace. Early on in the game, you acquire attacks - a burst attack that sends a shock wave to take out enemies and bombs. Even with these base two attacks, they can be used in conjunction to become a projectile weapon. It takes a little practice to get the aiming down, but in time you’ll be able to take out attacking enemies. Deeper into the game, you get even more upgrades that assist you in your journey. Combat isn't the main component of gameplay here, but rather exploration. You’ll be destroying enemies here and there but the main focus is found in opening new areas and solving environmental puzzles.

There is a decent variety of enemies found throughout forma.8. Jumping enemies, flying enemies, enemies with projectiles - all of these test your reflexes and encourage players to get good at using the attacks. While these minor enemies can sometimes be annoying after awhile, the real challenge and excitement comes with the boss characters. Each boss is unique and simply figuring out their weaknesses or how to damage them is satisfying and enjoyable. There are some really memorable encounters here!

The simple, yet elegant visual presentation is the first thing that draws you in to forma.8. The beautifully hand-drawn vector graphics look absolutely stunning. There are quite a few different environment types that keep each area in the game fresh. They are all basically caves, but underwater areas, lava filled caverns and more await the little probe. In terms of performance, forma.8 runs pretty smoothly 99% (60 fps) most of the time. I did run into a few issues where the engine would chug a bit when the probe was entering a new screen. This was rare and didn’t effect gameplay in any meaningful way (i.e. send me to my death).

Forma.8 doesn’t offer an overarching narrative of any sorts, but more of an underlying story that is told not through text, but rather through the visuals in the game. The sense of loneliness is perfectly conveyed as you lose yourself this beautifully crafted world. The music fits the game perfectly from offering subdued tunes and some heart pumping music for boss battles.

While controls are generally pretty good across the board, there are some instances that can be a bit annoying. Particularly when you are tasked with moving around items in game. There are a few times when you have to maneuver things across the stage, which is done by either just running into them with your probe or using some of your powers to propel them. It really slows things down and can be a bit frustrating at times. General pacing can also be an issue, particularly about midway through the game.

Forma.8 is an excellent game. It really nails the theme of isolation and is a visual treat. This is an adventure game at heart that also has some great boss encounters. Despite the controls taking a little while to get used to and some pacing issues, it’s definitely worth checking out.

Final Score:  8.0

(Review code provided by the publisher)

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